2012-12-23

[Technology] Efficiency!

I was using a script for a project that applied a bunch of transformation and filtering rules to some data.  There are only about 60 rules right now, and there is an average of 272 data records each day.   I originally wrote this quickly in a bash script using the terminal commands sed (for replacing a matched pattern with some string) and grep (for filtering based on a matched pattern).



Running it in a given month gets progressively longer as the month goes on, and it was taking on average over 5 minutes (!) to run those 62 rules.  Applying all the rules to each data record was taking almost a full second each.  This wasn't really scalable.



So, today I ported the script to vala, which is a C#-like language that compiles down into C (which is then compiled into native code).  This promises to be much quicker than interpreted code to begin with.  The run time once converted was less than 1 second.  That was a pleasant surprise.



Some of the fun was moving the transformation rules into their own file (XML), separate from the code, and making sure all the Regex objects were created once at the start of the program and then applied to all later data.



To make it still better would probably involve parsing the data records into a structured form from the start, rather than just using regular expressions to transform data strings.  Then creating a couple different type of rules for specific fields.  But this is good enough for now. :)





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